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Marussia heralds fresh start as 2012 car finally hits the track
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Mar 2012   |  7:06 pm GMT  |  60 comments

Marussia today belatedly rolled out its 2012 car for the first of two filming days at Silverstone and in the process pointedly drew a line under the design philosophy of the team’s first two years in Formula 1 – describing the new MR01 as a “ground-up re-evaluation of the way the team designs its racing cars”.

The team, which is now named after the Russian sportscar company that holds the majority stake, famously pioneered an all-CFD approach with the VR-01 and MVR-02 but after an underwhelming start to last year parted company with technical director Nick Wirth and set about a change of direction under the guidance of highly respected former Renault man Pat Symonds, who officially remains as a consultant amid the final year of his enforced spell away from front-line F1 involvement.

In its press release outlining details of the new car, the team talked about “going back to basics” with a car that features few carry over parts and has benefited from input from a restructured aerodynamic department, with a wind tunnel now being utilised for the first time.

The team is now able to draw on the expertise of McLaren through a technical tie-up, while the move into Wirth Research’s former Banbury base means all the team’s departments are under one roof for the first time.

Amid the progress off the track, however, was of course the failure of the new chassis – which, like the McLaren doesn’t feature the in-vogue stepped nose – to pass all 18 of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests, which forced the team to sit out last week’s final Barcelona test and prompted the Silverstone promotional days, where the MR01 is only able to run on demonstration Pirelli tyres rather than the pukka 2012 rubber.

Team boss John Booth admitted the lack of serious running before Melbourne was far from ideal, but is at least glad to finally have the car on the track in some capacity: “It has been a long and frustrating wait for everyone in the team but we can now get back on track – literally – and start working towards the first race of the season in Australia next weekend. Today is the first of two promotional events, so while the drivers will be able to get a feel for the car, they won’t be able to draw any real conclusions until we start running in anger in Melbourne. Nevertheless, this is an important day for us and we’ll enjoy every minute on track with the new car.”

It emerged the team are still to actually pass the final crash test before competing in Melbourne, but Symonds said they were working on the best solution to the unspecified problem. He said: “The component in question has actually passed an ‘unobserved’ crash test but has been performing inconsistently in the observed tests. The fail has only been marginal but, nonetheless, we need to completely eradicate that margin and as such we are taking the time we have to ensure we have an even more robust solution in place.”

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Interesting to compare the slagging HRT gets here compared to these ppl, who have a worse record.


That’s probably because signs look hopeful for them, while signs look hopeless for HRT.

In their first season Virgin clearly had the better car and it was pure luck that brought HRT in front. They have had trouble paying the chassis and the engine, until a new owner stepped on, they had trouble keeping team together, everywhere there was trouble, while at Virgin Wirth didn’t built a great car, but they progressed, very slowly, but they did keep it together and it looked like they had been behind expectations, but on a planned route.

Season one, for HRT, was pretty chaotic.

In their second season Virgin kicked Wirth after some races (and probably a tad too early) together with Wirth Research and virtually had no one to develop the car until Symmonds had built up the new infrastructure.

That was while HRT seemed to finally get something like a grip in all that chaos with Kolles and Willis, but we all knew Willis was just there “part time”, we know their car as not new but an altered version of the last, and we have seen Willis leaving the team frustrated (I git to read that Willis complained that often they could not test the most important things because they were missing some lousy thousand dollars for the wind tunnel), owners changed once again, Kolles had to go, everything broke down and in all that messy chaos they decided to move headquarters again, to Spain – and as a reader I had to ask myself: Isn’t it more important to get sorted before turning everything upside down once again? Will they ever get to work?

And while Virgin have a new car once again, HRT once again pull up with a three year old Dallara chassis, modified to match the current rules, showing some of Willis’ ideas from before he left, and in January they hire a unsuccessful Toyota-Chief-Designer reject and a hopeless paydriver to keep things going.

While at Virgin everything looked calm, expected to slow down and like a well planned new beginning.

You see:

It was generally perceived that while Virgin acted carefully and planned, HRT just reacted in panic.

And when things like these happen, the points don’t tell the whole story.

If you look at the bare results, well..


Regardless of livery…or Pat Symonds influence…I think the HRT is a better looking car.


James, I have a proposal : The teams that are lying at the bottom half of the championship table mid-way through the season should be allowed 4 days of additional testing – say sometime in end of June/early July. That way they get to do some more research on their cars and narrow the gap to leading teams.


..and the team on the bubble will be the one that complains. Also I dislike the idea of some cars deliberately slowing down to get 4 days of extra testing.


How about a cheaper solution, after the first race, the bottom so many teams get to run either an extra session at each race, or get longer FP sessions.

After all, the teams are all there so the cost will be minimal, fuel, tyres etc. Maybe an extra session on the evening after the race would offer something for the fans to stick around for and wouldn’t risk damage before the race.


Testing after the race is usually a bad idea. Sure, the track is ready and the teams are there, but people seem to forget that the schedule to appear at the next race is pretty tight and teams share the hired jets and you would need to fly all the development-parts around the world as well, so it’s not as cheap and easy as one would like to expect.

Stephen Hughes

I’d be surprised if it wasn’t still considerably cheaper than having separate test days. Maybe not do it in cases where there are two GPs on consecutive weekends OK. I’m sure the teams could come to an agreement on the hire of the jets – just delay things by 4-6 hours. I’m only thinking of say a 2 hour test session maybe an hour or two after the race has ended so not a massive delay.

There are some circumstances where it wouldn’t work so you just nominate tracks where it applies. There are ways to make it a much cheaper option than other forms of testing.


A very interesting idea. It might be a way to improve the bottom teams.



I have a question about the high front wing seen at the launch. Given the regulations, one such as Symonds would not have the wing a nanometre higher then allowed, so there must be another reason (besides the full wets they seem to have ran). Could the unusually high front wing be an indication that Pat Symonds will set up the Marussa to run aggressive rake like the RBR last year?


Expectation is for Pat Symonds to build a solid technical structure as well as design a good performing car but with limited resources, aero development during the year will be limited as well.

Of the bottom three, Caterham will edge ahead and perhaps nip at the heels of the mid-field pack, followed by Marussia then HRT. Why Marussia? Pat has been with them since last year and had input into this year’s car design, so mechanically Marussia should be on better technical ground compared to HRT.


Nice looking car, except for too pointy nose… but at least it is not another platypus family member.

Despite collaboration with McLaren and “soft launch” of the car, I anticipate Marussia to fail the last crash test again…

and actually I am bit worried, that their car shows inconsistency in crash tests… what if other safety devices fail in real crash?

On the place of FIA I would have imposed additional crash testing on them.


@ Phil R: it is called the MR01 this year. The 2011 model was the MVR01


Marussia planning on some offroading with that car?


The answer to many questions regarding the high nose:

They didn’t manage to pick up crashed pieces of RBR front wing for analysis on how to bend it at high speed 😀 😀 😀

Andrew Halliday

I actually like the livery – it’s slightly reminiscent of the old Marlboro McLaren livery.


Blasfemy ! 🙂


Pat Symonds is the greatest step forward for this team. The last 2 years have been a waste with Nick Wirth bucking the obvious need for wind tunnel testing. Aerodynamics has been the key for success since the end of the tyre war between Michelin & Bridgestone. Both Marussia & HRT have lost touch with Caterham so the only battle is not to be last at the end of the season & that’s clearly a 2 horse race.


I doubt that the CFD-approach is the problem – most teams use CFD to test lots of parts in the computer befre verifying only the best designs in the wind tunnel. As long as the results of the wind tunnel, the CFD correspond to the real world, the wind tunnel is not really needed. So, assumed the CFD tools at Virgin have been accurate enough – it’s the designer’s fault. The Problem is: At Virgin Racing, they couldn’t know, but I’ve heard that the drivers should have said the car usually did what the simulation said it would do. James: Could you shed a light on this?


I really hope Marussia and HRT step forward this year and amaze everyone. I think with Pat Symonds aboard, this team could switch to a Renault power unit next year but with McLaren being their technical partners (Could this be a secret McLaren works team?), a Mercedes power unit might appear in this marque.


I seriously doubt Pat Symonds carries any weight at Renault!

Anyway, with the French marque supplying four teams this season, an additional engine supply may be stretching it…


Why is the nose so far off the ground?


Because it’s not a car, it’s a plane ready to take off…


Hi James

What is the situation with Virgin and the team now? Obviously no money still, but I’m slightly surprised that the car is called the MVR (I assume the V is for Virgin) and there is some branding on the car.

I would have thought that Branson would want to limit the damage being done to his brand, or is the thought process that the investment is nil and there is always the chance of progress and they don’t want to do a Honda in 08/09, albeit to a much smaller scale.

By the way, did Richard Branson ever carry out his lost bet against Tony Fernandes?


MVR-02 was last year’s car, this is the MR01. 🙂


I like an underdog, and lets face it if Ferrari can make yet another “Dog” with all their resources, why should we take the P*ss out of Marussia or HRT. I wish them lots of luck and sincerely hope they surprise a few people


Totally agree 😉 Go HRT and Marussia…! This shaping up to be another good season for so many reasons…..


No chance of that front wing dragging on the track, even if they took up rallying.


That is the worst paint job since the Footwork Arrows of (I think) ’93…! Dreadful!

Brent McMaster

It is interesting that there was so much bad press about HRT failing a crash test, yet Marussia’s failure never was mentioned.

Again today all kinds of coverage of the Marussia (which I understand still has not passed all the tests)and not a word or picture of the HRT.


That bon bon livery will blend in perfectly in the background and hardly be visible on a TV screen.


I’m guessing that’s the livery of the ‘Mobile Chicanes’ this year! Painted to stand out slightly against the ripple strips of the curbing.

Maybe we can call Marussia ‘The Bear’ this year – the red/black design reminds me of an old Aus Rugby League team North Sydney Bears, plus, the red/black appears in stereotypical representations of Russian Dancing Bears outfits & Russian circuses performers in general… It’ll probably roar like a wounded one trailing broken engine bits behind it as it trundles down the main staight on more than one occassion…

Also, could the wing be that far off the ground for the filming day outing? Upper set ride height/over-inflated demo tyres, something like that? Did Merc’s FW run ‘high’ during it’s filming day?


How far off the ground is that front wing?!?!?!?


I wonder if that is caused by the demo tyres? Anyone got any idea if the profile is different on these?


What an awful color scheme. Lets hope its just my screen!


Reminds me of the old Arrows with Jos the Bos at the wheel.

Stephen Hughes

Daft question, what engine are Marussia running? The BBC say Cosworth, I thought they’d gone Merc with the McLaren tie-in? Or is that the plan once the turbo engines come in?

Also, I was wondering, I know the car has to have passed all crash tests to take part in testing, could they have run a ‘filming day’ with a car that hadn’t passed the tests? Just wondering if there would have been any benefit shaking down the rest of the car to spot problems which they could have been fixing while trying to pass the crash tests.

Are the teams totally banned from running their cars, or can they take them for a quick spin around their carpark to make sure all systems are running OK? Surely they must be allowed some way to check parts and systems before going to a test or race?


The Marussia road cars use Cosworth engines too, so Im pretty sure that is why the F1 cars will still.


No it’s Cosworth. They have a technical partnership with McLaren for wind tunnel and strategy tools, but not engine & gearbox like Force India’s deal


start running in anger ..!!


Funny how they lowered the nose this year to prevent it from being to high and spearing the driver… Looking at this photo I have never seen a nose look more like a sharp harpoon ready to lance into another car!


Agree: but at least this way the nose won’t decapitate the driver directly. Spearing the monocoque at least gives the driver a chance. Thankfully most collisions are sort of side on side rather than a direct nose on.


Not only that, the nose is supposed to disintegrate on impact.


They can’t make it to testing, they can’t make it competitive, the least they should do it get a decent paint job. It looks like a bloody Liquorice Allsort!


Or dazzle camouflage

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